Torrents of Fate

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Chapter 5

“Please allow me to escort you to your chamber, Lady Crowe,” the burgundy frocked housekeeper murmured, her gaze fixed on the floor.

Evie wondered why the housekeeper was so nervous, as she stood with rigid shoulders and a racing pulse. They had no reason to hurt her, despite the fact that their presence as ascendants had this impact on everyone.

“She stays with me,” Ethan said, his voice as ferocious as a wolf’s bite.

The Tranquil Bane squadron followed him as he led Evie out of the foyer and into the parlour. She had no hope of evading them at this point. Ethan was never without his wolves, and she was certain that her protection detail would arrive soon.

Her father’s anchoring spell had to be broken so that her brothers couldn’t track her.

After surveying the parlour, Evie nodded her approval. The interiors of Hayes Manor and Crowe Castle were comparable, right down to the thick black curtains and gloomy lighting. The grey paint and thick black curtains bolstered the rich oak brown furnishings.

Slipping her hand from Ethan’s grasp, Evie gazed at the painting hanging above the fireplace; the flare did little to brighten the cheerless ambience.

It was an ornate artwork of a scarlet moon that reminded her of the very vivid recurrent dream she’d had since she was sixteen.

“Lord Crowe, how did it go?”

Her stomach lurched at the sound of the deep sinful voice that sent a ripple of vibration through her body.

“It went well. Found what I went looking for.” Ethan returned and shucked off his grey overcoat.

Her eyes fell on the large dark-haired man in a tailored black suit, with his hair held back in a slick ponytail. As he turned around to face Ethan, his eyes—a gripping silver—fell on her. Her eyes widened for a split second at the familiar zing from the previous night.

It was him.

Stepping around Ethan to her, he asked, “And Samara?”

“Taken care of. Thank you for the heads-up.” Ethan added and lowered to one of the Gothic brown chairs.

“What did you do to Sam?” Evie’s chest tightened. How did they even get to know about Samara’s involvement in anything at all?

It was him.

He sent them after Samara. Why would he do that? His eyes never left hers, and she could not look away from him. As memories of the full moon cast over an injured black wolf flashed through Evie’s mind, she gulped.

“Black fur.”

He pushed her hair out of her face. “In the flesh.”

She swallowed against the satisfying sweetness of his scent as his voice teased her senses.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Lady Crowe.”

Silence.

It wasn’t that his bewitching silver gaze held her bound or that she dug a bullet out of him the night before. But Ethan was sitting right there and hadn’t tried to hide her from him as he and Liam usually did.

Shaken by his overpowering aura, she backed away from him. He was the black fur of Broxbridge, and the rapid thumping of her heart, reinforced what she already knew; he was her mate.

“And you are?”

“Andrea.” His mouth stretched in a wide smile and thunder clapped at the back of her mind.

A shiver raced through Evie, and she clenched her teeth to keep it at bay. Her reaction to him was as unusual as it was incredible.

“You are a pristine vision, Lady Crowe.” His large form towered over her, and his stimulating smile made her thirsty. “Thank you for your assistance last night.”

She gave him a weak smile.

“My name is Evie. I don’t care for the needless formality, black fur.”

“It’s not proper to address a Broxbridge high Lord that way, Evie,” Ethan said as he adjusted in his seat.

“She can call me whatever she likes, Ethan.” His finger brushed lightly along her chin, and she inhaled a sharp breath against the sensation.

“Do not touch me.”

Through touch, the black furs could sense emotions and thoughts. Despite their bond as mates, she couldn’t have him find out about her intention to flee after the Christening.

But he edged so close to her that their lips almost touched.

“Only I can touch you, Evie.” He whispered those words, like they were meant just for her.

It didn’t take much to imagine his enormous hands exploring her body in a way that caused her breath to snag and her body to tremble. The two stared at each other for some time, barely breaking eye contact. It was getting increasingly difficult to breathe under the spell of his piercing silver gaze.

He was her mate.

By the gods! Broxbridge’s black fur was her fated. She didn’t expect things to get this complicated. Was this the reason she couldn’t shake the desire to linger, to witness the Christening? Her mate?

“Where’s Sam, Ethan?” she asked, stepping away from Andrea’s spurring gaze. “She’d better be in one piece,” she said as she took a swipe at her brother.

“That is up to him,” Ethan said, motioning to Andrea. “Samara is waiting for you in the guest quarters, safe.” He emphasized that last word with great force. “I’m offended that you think I will hurt your friend.” Storming off, he yanked his coat back on and waved his wolves to follow.

Did he really just leave her alone with Andrea? She passed her mate a wary glance.

“Why is Samara’s safety up to you?” she asked.

“You and your friend are in my care as long as you’re in Broxbridge.” Andrea tugged at the cuff of his shirt. “I also hope to change your brother’s mind about Samara’s involvement in your disappearance.”

“Why do you care?”

“Samara is the reason you are here.” He slipped his hands into his pockets. “It worked out well for me, and I won’t see her punished for it.”

Her lips pursed. “I gather you believe in fate, and in things happening for a reason.”

“With that tone, I guess you’re not.”

She stared at him for a while, then averted her gaze quickly when he smiled at her.

It would be impossible to leave Broxbridge as long as he and Ethan were watching her. Her eyes wandered back to the painting above the fireplace. As it would seem, her quest had reached its natural ending; at the hand of her mate.

After struggling to focus on the picture, she turned to find him watching her. The scrutiny of his gaze made her very aware of his presence.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” he said as he came up to her. “This is one of the few times in history when the moon was crimson. I hope I captured it well enough for you?”

Evie turned her attention to him. “You saw it?” This painting was a masterpiece of colour and brushwork.

His gaze lingered on his work for a long time. “My first shift coincided with the scarlet moon, which is considered a bad omen by the immortals.”

The moon had turned scarlet red in her dream, above a gory black fur. Could it have been him? When she turned to him, he was back to staring at her.

“Where’s the west wing? I need to see Sam.”

“I will take you.” He extended his hand to her, his gaze locked on hers with an intimacy that said she was his.

As she considered the tall order of trouble before her, her lips pursed. Couldn’t she stay in Broxbridge with Andrea, since that was the more logical thing to do? There would be no reason to leave Lethuoca now that her mate was here. It was what the gods willed in any case.

“You’re the black fur of Broxbridge.”

The statement came out harsher than she intended. At first, he only smiled.

“I am its black fur.”

A really foolish one at that. Why did he agree to the Christening? He could die inside the goddess’ lair. Evie turned away from him, a slight frown on her face. They were mates, so the quest into the lair should have halted. Wasn’t that how it worked? There was no point in her getting involved. She needed to find Samara and devise a new plan to get out of Lethuoca if that was still possible.

Because if her mate was truly entering the lair, then she had no mate.

“I’ll find it on my own,” Evie said, stepping past him.

When he caught her arm and pulled her into him, her pulse went into overdrive. Lowering his face into the mass of her hair, he sniffed and sucked in a low growl.

“You have no idea where your quarters are. Let me show you. I promise I won’t bite.”

Stumped, she stared at him, unable to move. After Andrea released her arm, he caressed her chin, a touch that warmed her.

“Come on.” Taking Evie’s hand, he led her out of the parlour, leaving Evie wondering why he could turn her into a mopping idiot with just a touch.

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